Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Internal Auditor Resigns

Here's the Seattle Times story.

We have no way of knowing whether Mr. Nderu worked his tail off and issued all kinds of warnings, rang all kinds of alarms, and provided all kinds of constructive advice only to have his work balled up and thrown out - or - he bobbed along in the current doing little if anything.

A question like that could be fascinating, but, on the other hand, what difference does it make to anyone but him?

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

i have to wonder about the 'nonprofit' shell creation, very enron-esque, don't you think ? even down to the 'if we get busted we will deny everything- he's on his own.'
-parent of a first grader

Charlie Mas said...

I honestly don't care about the $35,000 check. Why should I care about the one piece of advice he gave that someone followed - why was anyone looking to him for direction on this anyway?

I'm much more interested in what he did every other day of the three years he worked for the District.

Linda said...

The coin of the realm down at the rubber room that we know as the Stanford Center has been; keep your head down, shut up and do as you are told or get out.

That applies to each and every department down there.

The pecking order dictates that MGJ has Kennedy on that leash, he had the auditor on that leash and every single staff member who would not "take the bit" like a "broken" horse got out years ago.

Think back on the good people who have jumped ship in the last few years starting with the guy who was budget director before Duggan Harman.

Its sick but it all makes sense.

seattle said...
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seattle said...
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seattle said...

"We have no way of knowing whether Mr. Nderu worked his tail off and issued all kinds of warnings, rang all kinds of alarms, and provided all kinds of constructive advice only to have his work balled up and thrown out -"

Oh, yes we do.

Anything that Mr. Nderu would have warned MGJ, staff or the board about, rang alarms about, given advice about, would have been done in writing, and he should be able to produce those documents.

From the comment sections in the Seattle Times article [and I agree]:

"If he informed the Board of the issues, it should be in writing and should be able to immediately produce reports. An internal auditor does not rely upon verbal notification. EVERYTHING is always backed up in writing, reports of findings, examination. If it is not in writing, it never happened. If the Auditor didn't realize this, then I question his credentials. "

mirmac1 said...

Seattle,

Yes, the reports would be in writing and the public would have access to them through the Public Disclosure Act. Oh wait, I forgot that SPS doesn't feel obligated to provide these documents and run in an open transparent manner.

dan dempsey said...

FOIA....

Writing to legal affairs officer Ms. Joy Stevens for Nderu's emails to the Board should bring some type of response.

Charlie Mas said...

Does it matter?

Does it matter if Don Kennedy suppressed his reports or if Dr. Goodloe-Johnson blocked his access to the Board or if the Board got the reports and totally ignored them?

If we learned that it happened one way or the other, what difference would it make? Would our view of any of those people change?

seattle said...

"Oh wait, I forgot that SPS doesn't feel obligated to provide these documents and run in an open transparent manner."

SPS has released many many documents to the public in compliance with the public disclosure act (just ask Charlie, Melissa or Dan if you don't believe me). Mirimac you should try acknowledging when SPS does something right occasionally. It would make your posts much more credible and worthy of taking the time to read.

But lets just say, hypothetically, that mirimac is right and SPS won't produce the documents upon public request. And let's assume that Mr. Ndero actually did do his job, documented his findings, and corresponded with MGJ, staff and the board appropriately, and in writing. Don't you think Mr. Ndero has copies or access to copies of his correspondence, reports, and findings? don't you think he documented them? Don't you think he would produce those documents in his own defence?

If Mr. Ndero does not produce any documents, and nothing is produced as a result of a public disclosure request or another route, then I will have to concur with SPS that Mr. Ndero was not doing his job, and that MGJ is holding him accountable.

Which is a good thing.

But who knows. We'll have to wait and see what comes to light.

Patrick said...

Does it matter if Don Kennedy suppressed his reports or if Dr. Goodloe-Johnson blocked his access to the Board or if the Board got the reports and totally ignored them?

We should be blaming the right party. We have enough to blame on all those people without attributing misdeeds to them that they didn't actually commit. And if it was the auditor not doing his job or reporting only verbally, it's primarily his fault.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Remember this story. It is going to get bigger and bigger. It is one more wind blowing through the house of cards that purports to be the management of our district.

There is more here than meets the eye. I'm not sure about the messenger but I think I can read the message.

Meg said...

I read through the auditor's report (including exceptions) again, just for fun. At the end of most findings or exceptions is a little note about who at SPS the auditor's office communicated with and when they did so, as it is their practice to notify the district when they find issues.

Between November 2009 and May 2010, at least 24 different district staff, including the internal auditor, were notified of issues.

The accounting manager was notified of 8 separate issues. The executive director of finance was notified of at least 3. The SpEd director of at least 4. The director of facilities was notified of one. And on and on and on.

Any member of SPS management who was notified of an issue by the auditor's office could - and should - have notified their own manager, the internal auditor, and possibly the board as well.

It is still entirely possible that the internal auditor was not doing a good job. But given the numerous members of district management who were notified of issues, it would be really, really hard for district management to play the "we had no idea because our internal auditor didn't tell us" card. There is ample evidence, just in the report, that district management should have had an idea of how bad the audit was going to be.

The board might be able to play that card - apparently they didn't learn of the many, many issues until the exit interview with the auditor's office this summer.

mirmac1 said...

Seattle

MEEOOOWW!

Actually I've been waiting months to get documents and have been getting the runaround. So have other parents I know.

"If Mr. Ndero does not produce any documents, and nothing is produced as a result of a public disclosure request or another route, then I will have to concur with SPS that Mr. Ndero was not doing his job, and that MGJ is holding him accountable."

Frankly, I won't lose any sleep if you don't find me credible and skip over my posts (I'm crying inside, sob). If you accept SPS press releases and MGJ's coffee chats as gospel, goodie for you.

Sahila said...

@seattle... mirmac1 is quite right in his/her assertion that the district doesnt release documents in compliance with the public disclosure act, complete and in time...

neither do they release documents and evidence required for legal action voluntarily ...

and they NEVER produce a record they can certify to be complete and correct for legal purposes...

mirmac1 said...

Oh yeah, another thing. As a former whistleblower myself and someone privy to lawsuits and PDRs, I would not be surprised if Mr. Nderu was expressly directed NOT to put things in writing because it would be open to disclosure. In my line of work, we are often directed by attorneys to not use email or memos when discussing issues in dispute.

Eric B said...

"What difference does it make?"

Two words: Plausible Deniability. If Mr. Nderu was not doing his job, then all kinds of people can say, "We didn't have ANY IDEA this was wrong? Our Ethics Officer never told us, so you can't blame us!" If he was doing his job, then they have no such excuse.

Of course, if he did do his job and write things down, then it is in management's interest to quash any release of documents. Without documents, it would be difficult to prove whether he wasn't doing the job, or was and not writing things down per counsel's recommendation, or was and documents are hidden in a man-sized safe.

For the record, I don't know that I've ever had contact with Mr. Nderu, and I don't know at all whether he was doing what he should or not. I was just trying to answer the "does it matter" question.

dan dempsey said...

From: Kennedy, Donald R
Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2010 12:04 PM
Subject: FY 2011/2012 Budget Update #2 - Hiring & Spending Freeze Details



Dear Seattle Schools Staff Members,

The attached Superintendent’s Administrative Bulletin gives details regarding the freeze we have placed on hiring and spending for the remainder of this fiscal year. It is similar to the action we took last year as the first of a number of strategies we will use to effectively handle the budget problems that we face. As we get more information on how the state’s budget and the economy will impact Seattle Schools next year we will respond with additional strategies.

As you read the bulletin I ask that you pay particular attention to the statements concerning non-compliance and accountability in the second paragraph. As stated in the bulletin, compliance with the requirements of the bulletin is critical to help ensure we address the district’s budget difficulties and that we adhere to the State Audit recommendations requiring employees to comply with district policies and procedures.

I realize that freezing hiring and spending can place a burden on our efforts to accomplish the work we have been tasked to perform. However, the dollars that we save this year will go towards protecting jobs for next year. For instance, the similar measure we undertook last year resulted in

$5 million in savings, which were used to offset the budget gap. Had we not realized this $5 million of savings, we would have had to lay off approximately 65 more people in order to balance the budget. I ask for your support in implementing these measures as we work towards finding solutions to our budget problems.

Sincerely, Don Kennedy

Chief Financial and Operations Officer

Dora Taylor said...

If anyone has additional information regarding Mr. Nduru's efforts to provide information to the appropriate parties within SPS and would like a public forum to share this information, please e-mail me at dora.taylor@gmail.com.

Seattle Education 2010

mirmac1 said...

It would be useful to coordinate the (inevitable) PDRs re: this matter

Melissa Westbrook said...

What hiring freeze? Dorothy and I got a handout last night that really calls into question that claim of cutting positions and hiring freezes. Ditto on the so-called travel freeze.

Dorothy Neville said...

I have a spreadsheet of all travel for last FY (open records request) but I haven't had time to analyze it.

Anyone want a copy, please send me an email and I will be happy to oblige.

Short answer: there was a lot of travel. Some school based and justifiable, but by no means all.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Here's the attachment:

Superintendent’s Administrative Bulletin
2011:1To:Don Kennedy, Chief Financial and Operating Officer
Susan Enfield, Chief Academic Officer
Ann Chan, Chief Talent Officer
Cc:Executive Management Team
From:Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson
Re:Immediate FY 10-11 Hiring/Spending Freeze
Date: December 8, 2010
We are currently in the process of developing the general operating fund budget for the 2011-2012 school year. As we do so, we prioritize activities that contribute to accelerating academic progress for all students, while at the same time being responsive to the current financial issues that both the school district and the state face.

Effective immediately the Human Resources Department will implement a hiring freeze of all non-grant and non-capital district positions to outside applicants. We will let you know when the hiring freeze is lifted. Also, a spending freeze will be put in place until further notice. Implementation of both strategies is for the purpose of restraining costs so as to reduce budget reductions in fiscal year 2011-12. Non-compliance with the provisions of this bulletin is subject to appropriate disciplinary actions. This accountability is especially critical because of two reasons: (1) the severe financial condition of the district, and (2) to adhere to the State Audit Office’s recommendation that district employees comply with district policies and procedures.
HIRING FREEZE
•Positions currently in the hiring process or advertisement phase will be filled by displaced employees and substitutes until the hiring freeze is lifted. Some positions may go unfilled.
Some positions, due to existing contract provisions, are exempt from the hiring freeze. These include positions required to be filled by collective bargaining agreements.
•Classified SEA represented positions will be filled by substitutes in lieu of regular classified personnel and after 60 consecutive workdays in the same assignment, substitutes will receive medical, dental, and vision benefits.
•Positions that are exempt per the I-609 contract will not be impacted by the hiring freeze.
•School based certificated positions are exempt from the freeze.
... more in next post

~so tired of it, too

Anonymous said...

Exceptions to Hiring Freeze
We are aware that a hiring freeze may be especially burdensome for some positions and departments, so we have created an exception process. Exceptions to the hiring freeze include positions required by contract, positions associated with safety concerns, and positions where it can be demonstrated that an “extreme need” exists. Steps in the process include:1.Complete the form, “Request for Hiring Freeze Exemption” located at: http://inside.seattleschools.org/area/humanresources/formshr/HiringException.pdf.
2.Get approval and signature from your division director.
3.Send the approved request form to Human Resources, attention of Ann Chan, Chief Talent Officer
4.Susan Enfield, Chief Academic Officer, and Don Kennedy, Chief Financial and Operating Officer will review requests for exceptions.
5.Requests for exceptions will be reviewed each Friday.
If you have any questions, please contact your HR analyst.
SPENDING FREEZE
This freeze applies to discretionary expenditures in non-grant Central Support Department and Program budgets. Self Help budgets are excluded from this at this time. The Spending Freeze does not apply to Schools, Grants, School ASB funds, Trust funds or Capital Project funds.

Discretionary spending is defined as all non-salaried employee costs and includes:
•Hire of new hourly (temporary) employees
•Authorization of non-contractually mandated employee Over Time/Extra Time
•Personal Service Contracting
•Purchase of non-essential supplies, furniture and equipment
•Extended/Out of District travel not already approved
•Substitutes for central departments
Until the Spending Freeze is lifted, Central Business Offices; Accounting, Payroll, Purchasing and Human Resources, have been directed to return all requisitions, contract submissions, and hire forms dated on or after December 9th.
Exceptions: Departments and programs may continue to order basic supplies and materials from the Central Warehouse using the B2B system as well as submit local travel reimbursements.

Exemption Process for Spending Freeze: Waivers for critical exemptions to this freeze must include:
•A one paragraph narrative of why the exemption is critically needed
•The amount and funding source of the function or item requested for exemption
•Signed by director level in support of the request
•Submit waivers to: Duggan Harman for approval
• Requests for exemption will be reviewed each Friday

Employee Overtime/Extra: Any non-contractually mandated overtime incurred after December 10th has to be approved before the overtime is worked.
Requests have to be made on the overtime request form, located at: http://inside.seattleschools.org/area/budget/index.html
•The request has to be approved and signed by the requestor’s division director
• Submit signed requests forms to Duggan Harman, Executive Director of Finance, for approval
•Requests for overtime will be reviewed each Friday
• The payroll department will notify requestors via e-mail if the request has been approved or denied.
We know that these measures impact our employees, and we appreciate everyone’s understanding of the need to take this action. Thank you for your continued commitment to Seattle Public Schools and to our students.

###
~so tired of it, too

StepJ said...

It says the hiring freeze is in effect until the end of the fiscal year. Does the SPS fiscal year end on Dec. 31 of 2010 - or is their fiscal year different from the calendar year?

If the fiscal year is the same as the calendar year then there will only be a hiring freeze until Dec. 31 - correct?

StepJ said...

Nevermind -- FY runs from Sept. 01 to Aug. 31.

mirmac1 said...

After the 17% fiasco, these folks have no credibility. MGJ should cut the fat from her failed Strategic Plan and overpriced "executive management team", before cutting one red cent from the classroom.

Kathy said...

Dorothy,
What was the total cost of travel expenditures?

G said...

Why does this hiring freeze seem to have TFA written all over it? More open positions to fill next school year. It just seems crafty to me.

seattle citizen said...

@G -
The hiring freeze does not effect school-based certificated hring:

"•School based certificated positions are exempt from the freeze."

So I'm not sure this would have an affect on the TFA rigamarole

seattle citizen said...

Oh, but the freeze might KEEP TFA out! They don't have certificates. Yet.

Maureen said...

I wonder if this will impact the currently listed positions (like the Board Manager and Administrator)?

Michael said...

@Melissa: What do you mena by this:

"There is more here than meets the eye. I'm not sure about the messenger but I think I can read the message."

"the messenger"? Who are you talking about? The auditor that quit?

Dorothy Neville said...

Kathy, total cost of travel isn't easy to tell from just looking at the spreadsheet, as it adds and subtracts things as they get billed to different budgets. And some are legitimate things such as a teacher chaperone on a field trip, things that would be reimbursed properly from different accounts. I just haven't had the time to play with it, but perhaps someone else can.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry to be cryptic but I just don't want to tip off our friends at headquarters too much. Yes, I meant the internal auditor and this story is not going to end well. And it all happened on MGJ watch.

Macharia said...

Look for department Plans shared with the Board of Directors in the Insideseattleschools.org/area/internalauditor

There are other reports in this same forum. This information was shared since 2008

Charlie Mas said...

Macharia, I couldn't get that URL to work.

I think it may be on the district's internal site which is password protected and not visible to the public.

Hey, district staff, little help?

Anonymous said...

The information on the internal page is a chart with a bunch of risk numbers per catagory. No specifics. Plus the "dialometer" slides presenting levels of risk and the amounts of those risks are extremely misleading. High Risk dial looks like a minor problem the way it is presented.
-one with access

The Real Arnold said...

This guy was a dufus.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that High level staff at SPS read these blogs. People self report their behaviour through their statements. One can spot immaturity self reported by those who call others names. SPS people - one with access- let it go!